Palestinian representatives Monday rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to hold direct talks in Paris next month.
“Direct negotiations with Mr. Netanyahu in the past have proven to be fruitless; why repeat the same mistakes?” Jamal Dajani, the director of communications for Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, said ahead of a meeting between Hamdallah and visiting French Prime Minister Manuel Valls in Ramallah Tuesday.
“Actions speak louder than words,” Dajani said. “Mr. Netanyahu's actions have shown that he's more interested in building illegal settlements than in reaching peace.”
On Monday, Netanyahu renewed his rejection of a French peace initiative under which Paris plans to hold ministerial-level talks on June 3 as the first step in reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations which came to a halt when a U.S.-led initiative collapsed in April 2014. The proposed Paris talks would exclude both Israelis and Palestinians.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is currently wrapping up a three-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. While the Palestinians have welcomed the French initiative, Israel has rejected it out of concern that it would be faced with foreign dictates, according to Reuters.
Speaking to Israeli broadcaster i24news, Valls said direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians had failed.
“Our initiative is not done behind Israel's back,” he said, adding: “The role of the world powers is to ensure that dialogue is organized.”
According to the French plan, another conference is to be held in the autumn with the Israelis and Palestinians in attendance. The goal is to eventually restart negotiations that would lead to a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has criticized the initiative and repeatedly offered to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for direct talks.
According to Al Jazeera, earlier this year, former French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said France would recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem if the conference and efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks failed.